E-newsletters: the good, the bad and the ugly

Jul 18, 2014 by
E-newsletters: the good, the bad and the ugly

Making a regular e-newsletter part of your company’s marketing strategy can provide many rewards. These include demonstrating your industry expertise, establishing a loyal following, marketing your products and services and driving traffic to your site.

ChillinAs we touched on briefly, there are plenty of things you can do to maximise the chances of success with your newsletter, but there are also numerous things you can get wrong, causing your efforts to backfire and hurting your brand integrity in the process. Committing to writing high-quality, valuable content should be the primarily focus of your newsletter, but here are some other factors you should consider, as well as what to look out for to make sure your newsletter doesn’t fall into the ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’ categories!

The good

All good newsletters should start with a catchy subject line. In the same way that the headline of a blog post should immediately captivate the viewer’s attention and encourage them to click into the article, the subject line of an emailed newsletter should do the same – arguably to an even greater degree. Whether you want to choose a humorous subject title, use clever wordplay or go with a more bland and descriptive approach is up to you. There is no correct answer but audiences will respond positively to different approaches depending on your niche, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you get it right. In addition to this, email automation can be used so that each recipient’s name comes up in the subject line and message, which helps to add a personal touch if used wisely.

“In many ways, your email subject line is more important than your email body. After all, a great newsletter is worthless if it never sees the light of day.” – Megan Marrs

Within the newsletter itself, make sure to use clear headlines which accurately capture the essence of your content. People don’t read newsletters sequentially: they scan for value before committing their time to reading. So if you’ve written something that may pique your audience’s interests, you want it to be overtly perceivable to them. For this reason, you may want to use automation to tailor your newsletter message to different demographics within your audience – the distinction between prospects and customers is a common one, but using different lists might be more applicable depending on your niche.

The bad

WiresGrammatical mistakes, broken hyperlinks and spammy subject messages from suspicious email addresses all rank amongst the worst aspects of bad e-newsletters. Be sure to proofread the content meticulously and always test your batch emails with colleagues in your office. Make sure that the automation is working correctly and there isn’t any unprofessional looking code in the email subject lines. Also, it’s important to have at least two people proofread your work. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss glaring mistakes and typos in your own work that other people will pick up in a matter of seconds – make sure these other people are your colleagues and not potential customers. Test the content and distribution of your newsletter rigorously!

Avoid vague subject lines and long winded messages – you’re fortunate to have a few moments of your audience’s time, so don’t disrespect them by wasting it. When it comes to bad newsletters, the absolute worst thing you can do is email it to someone who hasn’t manually opted in – and by the way, a speculative customer enquiry three years ago does not count as a signal that someone wants to receive your newsletter! Make sure your unsubscribe button is clearly on display to avoid creating further annoyance from people who no longer want to receive your material.

The ugly

A poor design and layout littered with low quality images, or even generic stock-images, can completely negate the most spectacular content. Also, using images with a large file size is a no-no, even if they’re high quality and aesthetically beneficial, no one wants to wait around forever for them to load. Some emails exceeding a certain file size will be immediately blocked by the recipient’s inbox, so be aware of this when choosing your images. In addition to this, if you’re looking to establish a loyal fanbase, it’s best to get the design of your newsletter right from the start. Broad changes your design and layout every other edition will make you look unprofessional and will ultimately diminish the positive visual associations your audience may be making with your brand.

If design isn’t your strong point, there is no shame in outsourcing the layout of the newsletter as well as the HTML coding of the email. In our business, we not only have years of experience in editing and proofreading Newsletters and producing templates which align with your brand, but we’re also able to test key metrics such as the click-to-open rate, allowing you to use this feedback to optimise your newsletter to give your audience exactly what they want!

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